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Sprawled on the deck of Big Blue Fiji’s catamaran, I decided that the views from this luxury vessel might be better than any overwater bungalow or seaside villa I’ve ever occupied.
Because, unlike those waterfront rooms, my tropical vistas kept changing. In the morning, I gazed across the infinite shades of sapphire that surrounded an offshore sandbar where I’d piloted my stand-up paddleboard. Come afternoon, we pulled anchor and sailed along a pristine coastline to watch the setting sun paint the South Pacific in brilliant hues of pink and gold.
For the past year, owners Laura Kay and Joe Donne have been using the Lagoon 440 catamaran to pilot guests around Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands, which are known for their unspoiled beaches and coral reefs. Each day brings a new snorkeling or scuba-diving site, while each evening presents a new sunset view.
The sailboat can accommodate up to six guests and features two air-conditioned cabins with private bathrooms. The interior lounge is also air-conditioned, which guests will welcome during the hotter months of December through March.
During my November visit, I preferred to lounge outside on the bow, where a swath of netting creates a trampoline between the catamaran’s two hulls. Once I claimed one of the plush beanbags located there beneath the shaded tarp, I tended to stay sprawled on it for long, relaxation-inducing amounts of time.
Each Big Blue Fiji itinerary is customized to guests’ preferences. One popular destination is Monuriki Island, home to the idyllic beach where the movie “Cast Away” was filmed. Because this strand can be crowded with day-trippers from Port Denerau, Kay and Donne generally arrive after 3 p.m. (when the traffic departs) so that their passengers can savor this cove in total solitude.
Beachcombing is just one way to spend the day. Clients will also enjoy access to the sailboat’s paddleboards, fishing rods and snorkeling gear. Diving can be also arranged (for an additional fee), and Big Blue’s attached speedboat lets kids of all ages zoom around on an inflated tube (or “biscuit,” as it’s called in these parts).
Meals and beverages (including alcohol) are included in the rate, which varies by tour. A basic three-night itinerary to Monuriki, Malolo and the Sacred Islands begins at $8,700 for four people — but, Kay emphasizes, prices vary because each journey is tailor-made (and Big Blue Fiji is happy to work with travel advisors).
One constant of the trips is the deliciously fresh food. After snorkeling among a kaleidoscope of coral, I returned to a platter of cucumber and salmon tapas. For lunch, Kay and Donne grilled artisan sausages, colorful vegetable kebabs and fresh-caught fish.
When the time finally came for me to leave the catamaran, I was reluctant to abandon the leisurely montage of lounging, snorkeling, paddling and wine-sipping.
Getting There: Big Blue Fiji provides a fast, uncomplicated return to Port Denarau. From there, guests can take a 30-minute shuttle to Nadi International Airport for nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The DetailsBig Blue Fijiwww.bigbluefiji.com